Being detained without your consent

Brain In Your HandIt is possible for people with mental illnesses to be detained and given treatment for their mental health without their consent. It is also possible for people who do not have the capacity to make decisions themselves to be detained and treated without their consent. This can happen when:

  • it is not possible to give the person the care or treatment they need without doing something that might deprive them of their freedom
  • the person needs treatment that cannot be given under the Mental Capacity Act (MCA)
  • the person may need to be restrained in a way that is not allowed under the MCA
  • it is not possible to assess or treat the person safely or effectively without treatment being compulsory

It is also possible to be detained without consent under the MCA

If you feel that you may lose capacity and may be detained, then you can only be detained or sectioned under the MHA if three people agree that you need to be detained in hospital. Usually, the three people would consist of either an Approved Mental Health Professional (AMHP) such as a doctor, nurse or psychologist. Your nearest relative could also be involved in this decision.

What you should expect when you are detained depends on which section of the MHA you are detained under.

Section 2

  • allows you to be admitted to hospital for an assessment of your mental health and receive any necessary treatment.
  • usually takes place if you have not visited a doctor for a long period of time.
  • you can be detained for up to 28 days

Section 3

  • allows you to be admitted to hospital for treatment. It must be necessary for your health, your safety or for the protection of other people
  • you can be detained if you are well known to the mental health services so there is no need for an assessment.
  • under section 3, you can be detained for up to 6 months

Section 4

  • you can only be detained under section 4 in emergency circumstances
  • you might be suffering from a mental disorder of a nature or degree which requires your detention in a hospital for assessment or medical treatment.
  • it might also apply if you need to be detained in the interests of your own health and safety or with a view to protect other people
  • you can only be detained for up to 72 hours

Section 5

  • section 5 is used by a doctor or nurse to prevent you from leaving a hospital when you are an inpatient receiving hospital treatment
  • this can include circumstances when you are receiving treatment in a general hospital for a physical condition
  • it should be used only in circumstances where it is not possible or safe to use sections 2, 3, or 4

In sections 2, 3 and 4 you do not have the right to refuse treatment. But in section 5 you are able to refuse treatment.

In each circumstance, you are entitled to aftercare. You will be given a specific care plan under the Care Programme Approach. It is also possible to make complaints through the Aftercare system. But if it is a large case, it is possible to go to a Mental Health Tribunal.

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